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Contractors not showing up - but we still owe them money!

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Posted by: from Mississauga
1/22/2014 at 1:49:56 PM

We hired a bathroom/kitchen company to redo our master bathroom, and it's been 12 weeks today since work started. There are still numerous small jobs to finish, including the plumbing in the shower, installing the tub light, and fixing some small issues that we are unhappy with.

At this point we still owe them 10% final payment, but they continue to not show up or call. I feel like firing them, but worry that they can sue for the remainder payment. So we are always nice and accommodating thinking that we need them to honour any warranty in future. It's getting ridiculous to not be able to use our bathroom for 12 weeks!

Any suggestions?

REPLIES (13)
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Agostino from Drywall Canada Ltd. in Toronto
Date/Time1/22/2014 at 3:06:52 PM

Hi Heather,

I know its very frustrating. Clearly they have found other projects paying them more than your 10% still owed to them. Its most likely not in their best interest to complete the job.

I would suggest getting the work completed and keep all your invoices in the event they resurface.

It will at least get your life back in order and your mind can be clear given you have contacted them on numerous occasions without much success.

I hope this helps.

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Stephen G from RSM Construction Group in Uxbridge
Date/Time1/22/2014 at 5:05:54 PM

Hi Heather,

My name is Stephen from SGT construction Group and I am very sorry to hear that you are having some difficulty with your contractor. Over the years we heard similar situation from some home owner saying that it happen to them.

My recommendation as I always say when I hear this, is to send them a nice letter by register mail to advise them that you need your project to be completed and you are giving them 5 business days to respond and that if they don't respond, you will hire another contractor to complete the project and pursue extra cost against them. Usually it work or if it does not work well at least you have try everything and that you have proof of sending them a letter by registered mail. So if they sue you, you can prove to the court that you try everything to resolve the situation.

Also if they agree to complete the work, for your protection, you should make sure that you have a proper copy of liability insurance and wsib clearance certificate before you release anymore funds.

Hope that was helpful.

Kindly,

Stephen

SGT Construction Group

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Robert from Electrilight Ltd. in Oakville
Date/Time1/22/2014 at 5:09:05 PM

Heather,

Do you have a written contract? If so, write them a formal letter (by snail mail) with all your open points and send it registered mail so you have proof of receipt. You can simply tell them to communicate with you by a set date or you will proceed with legal help.

Small claims court are willing to assist over $500. The dates you mention have provided them with more than enough time to be in touch and get the work done, you can assume they are not coming back.

Contact your lawyer for assistance. You can contact their city's officials where they have their company registered and file a claim with them as well so they are aware of the business owner's lack of fair business practice.

If you do not have any written documents then your case is harder to maintain and you may have to find another reliable contractor to finish your project.

Good luck.

Robert

Electrilight Ltd.

Oakville

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Walter from 360 Contracting in Mississauga
Date/Time1/22/2014 at 6:54:48 PM

Agree with Stephen G. If they don't respond get another contractor to complete. Then take them to small claims court. They probable won't show up but if you have any copies of cheques you paid them that cleared you can get a lien on their account. Done this before.

Walter

360 Contracting

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Daryl from Ridgewater Homes Ltd in Delta
Date/Time1/22/2014 at 7:01:36 PM

I am very sorry to hear that you are having issues with your contractor. We hear of this happening allot. Please for anybody do your research on your contractor.

My recommendation is the same as Stephan. Send them a letter by register mail to advise them that you need your project to be completed. Give them a week to respond.

If after that you still have not heard from them, hire another contractor to complete the project and pursue extra cost against them.

Hang in there, not all contractors are like this.

Daryl

Ridgewater Homes

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Bridget from EllisPIper Homes in Chilliwack
Date/Time1/22/2014 at 7:28:55 PM

Hi, EllisPiper Homes in Chilliwack here.

This makes me so angry when contractors do this, it gets all contractors a bad name even the good and honest ones. I find my self assuring my prospective clients that we don't work that way because that has been their experience.

My first question is did you do due diligence before hiring them? Did you investigate them? Did you ask for references? and if so, did you follow up on those references? Did you ask them how they worked and how many projects they run at a time? Did you get a good feeling about them and did you feel completely comfortable with them in your home? How many years had they been in business etc. A good contractor is willing to give references and happy for you to follow up on them.

Did you sign an order confirmation? On signing up a client, we both, us and the client sign and date a form that is our commitment to do and complete the project for the client and it is their commitment to us that they want us to do the job. If you did, you have grounds to hold them to what they signed. Easy said after the fact I know.

That aside, like others have said, your first step is to write long hand and reasonably toned and snail-mail to them and send recorded delivery. Be polite but firm and express your disappointment that the project is still unfinished and state the inconvenience it is causing. Request they meet with you to discuss the progress and give them 5 business days to respond. Also ask when you can expect the project to be completed. so you have a firm date for completion in writing.

If you get no response to that then you know the answer, they have no intention to finish your job and have gone on to something more profitable. it is then you need to be very careful in photographing and documenting absolutely everything done and not done.

Inform them of a date you expect the job to be completed and give them the opportunity to make good. Also inform then that you will be seeking an alternative contractor and will be pursuing them for any additional costs involved.

It might be hard to find a contractor willing to come in and complete the job, no contractor likes to finish off others poor workmanship.

Contact the BBB and lodge a complaint if they are members. people do check the BBB and bad news travels fast, name and shame!

It is time for you to take the lead on progress, be pro-active.

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Heather in Mississauga
Date/Time1/23/2014 at 12:20:36 PM

Thank you to all who responded! It's so nice to get some help.

We have been in contact with them on and off, but they just never show up. This is also a renovation/design COMPANY, not an individual contractor, so that's why it's so amazing that they would do business like this! We did check their references, and everyone was very pleased. I think for some reason our project is falling through the cracks.

I do like the idea of sending a registered letter. I just worry that now we have no warranty recourse in the future. They will def. not want to come back and fix a problem if we start to play hardball. We owe them more money than the rest of the work would cost if we had to do it with someone else, so financially we're OK.

Thanks again!

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Date/Time1/23/2014 at 5:04:41 PM

You should do a lot of homework before you hire someone, not just check reviews.

If they are not showing up while you still owe them money, what are the chances of them honouring warranty, after they have been fully paid?

Did you have a completion time-line stipulated in your contract? If not, my recommendation would be to consult legal advice, as to your options.

I do not recommend taking any advice posted on forums, as you may be in breach of contract.

John

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Modify Homes Corp in Calgary
Date/Time1/25/2014 at 12:36:42 AM

How frustrating. You are days from finished.

I would follow all the advice above, but leave out the threats. Simply politly state the case in as much detail as possible, and how you will move forward. Send via registered email, move forward with your plan.

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Date/Time1/26/2014 at 2:17:45 PM

I have read all of the above postings. And I have a couple of comments. First, I am sorry you have experienced what so many people go through. I am sincere.

Secondly you have to speak with people the company has completed contracts for, and if possible go see the jobs prior to hiring or signing a contract.

A payment schedule should be clearly stated in the agreement, as well as a planned completion date.

My agreements with clients normally have anywhere from fifteen to a twenty five percent hold back until completion. And if there are any delays, I communicate openly and clearly as all reputable people in this business do.

I would contact your lawyer and follow his or her suggestions.

Please post and let us know what happens.

Regards,

James Fram

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Robert from Electrilight Ltd. in Oakville
Date/Time1/29/2014 at 10:25:03 PM

Maybe look here:

http://www.sse.gov.on.ca/mcs/en/Pages/Homes_Repairs_and_Renovations.aspx

or

http://www.consumerbeware.mgs.gov.on.ca/catsct/start.do

Robert

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Date/Time2/21/2014 at 6:59:17 PM

Fire them. Then when they put a lien sue them for all costs to finish it. You hired bums..and if they were cheap that was your first mistake a bath reno by a proper contractor runs $15-20,000 min!!

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Heather in Mississauga
Date/Time2/22/2014 at 10:43:59 AM

Thanks again for all the responses - it did make us feel better to read them all and see the various ideas and suggestions.

To update - we are done with the reno as of Monday, Feb. 17th. 15 and a half weeks for what was meant to be an 8 wk. job. We are withholding the final 10% of payment, as per a suggestion on this forum and the Ontario Construction Lien Act, for 30 days.

It's a beautiful job, really well done, it's just so unfortunate that it took so long and we had to basically become our own general contractors, keeping track of what needed to be done, making all the phone calls, etc.

It was a big job, costing over $45,000, (we turned a small 5th bedroom into a master ensuite and our old closet/bathroom into a nice size walk-in/dressing area). If they were working every day, or most days, and it took this long, we'd be fine with it as it is a big job, however, when no one shows up for days in a row, sometimes weeks, and no phone calls to explain why, then the 15 weeks seems excessive!

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